The Sinfonia Concertante for Violin, Viola and Orchestra
in E-flat major
. 364 (320d), was written by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Date of composition and scoring
At the time of its composition in 1779
, Mozart was on a tour of Europe
that included Mannheim
. The composition's complex orchestral dynamics
reflects the increasing technical competence of the European orchestra of that era and was strongly influenced by Mozart's
visit to the Mannheim court orchestra
during his European tour of 1777 to 1779. Mozart
had been experimenting with the Sinfonia concertante
genre and this work can be considered his most successful realization in this cross-over genre between Symphony
The piece is scored in three movements for solo violin, solo viola, two oboes, two horns, and strings, the latter including two sections of violas.
The viola part is written in D major instead of E flat major, and the instrument tuned a semitone sharper (scordatura technique), to give a more brilliant tone. This technique is uncommon when performed on the modern viola and is used mostly in performance on original instruments.
The American composer and bassist Edgar Meyer was so interested in this work that in 1995 he wrote a double concerto for double bass, cello and orchestra that, while very different in style, closely mirrors the structure of Mozart's Sinfonia concertante.
The slow second movement is the best known, largely because of Michael Nyman's variations on it, used as the soundtrack to the Peter Greenaway film Drowning by Numbers. The original piece is also heard after each of the drownings in the screenplay.
This Sinfonia Concertante has influenced many arrangers to use these themes. There exists a Grande Sestetto Concertante
for string sextet after the Sinfonia Concertante K. 364. All six parts are divided equally among the six players; it is not presented as soloists with accompaniment.
It has also been arranged for violin and cello and Orchestra.
Michael Nyman's soundtrack for Drowning by Numbers is a pastiche of Sinfonia Concertante, especially the second movement.
The slow movement of this piece was featured in Nuri Bilge Ceylan's film Uzak.
- Mordden, Ethan. A Guide To Orchestral Music: A Handbook for Non-Musicians (Oxford, 1980).
- Smith, Erik. Notes to Mozart Sinfonia Concertante K364 (L.P. DECCA 1964)